Guernsey Press

Inquiry chairman delays decision over Mercer’s names refusal due to election

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace’s evidence has also been postponed.


A decision over whether the veterans’ minister can continue to withhold names of those who told him about alleged special forces murders in Afghanistan has been postponed until after the General Election.

Johnny Mercer was previously told his refusal “to answer legitimate questions… at a public inquiry” were “disappointing… surprising… and completely unacceptable”.

He repeatedly refused to hand over names of “multiple officers” who told him about allegations of murder and a cover-up during his time as a backbench MP.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Afghanistan Inquiry said the probe’s chairman, Sir Charles Haddon-Cave, concluded his decision should be postponed during the pre-election period.

He also elected to postpone the evidence of former defence secretary Ben Wallace, who was due to be quizzed by inquiry counsel on Monday.

Sir Charles served Mr Mercer with a Section 21 notice on March 13, compelling him to hand over the names.

The Conservative MP for Plymouth submitted an application to the probe on April 3, in which he argued he was either unable to comply with the order, or it was not reasonable for him to comply with it.

Giving his reason for not disclosing the names during his evidence in March, Mr Mercer told counsel to the inquiry Oliver Glasgow KC: “The one thing you can hold on to is your integrity and I will be doing that with these individuals.”

In the order, the chairman said the consequences of failing to comply without reasonable excuse would be “a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment and/or a fine”.

The inquiry’s spokeswoman said “the determination will be made and published after 4 July 2024”.

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